News literacy in education: The fight against fake news should start young

Image credit

News literacy in education: The fight against fake news should start young

Thrive from future trends

Subscribe today to equip your team with the leading trend and foresight platform used by multidisciplinary, future-focused teams working across departments in Strategy, Innovation, Product Development, Investor Research, and Consumer Insights. Convert industry trends into practical insights for your business.

Starting at $15/month

News literacy in education: The fight against fake news should start young

Subheading text
There’s a growing push to require news literacy courses as early as middle school to combat the efficacy of fake news.
    • Author:
    • Author name
      Quantumrun Foresight
    • April 25, 2023

    The rise of fake news has become a serious concern, especially during election times, and social media has contributed significantly to this issue. In response, several US states are proposing bills requiring media literacy to be included in their schools' curricula. By mandating media literacy education, they hope to equip students with the skills to critically analyze and evaluate news sources.

    News literacy in education context

    Fake news and propaganda have become an increasingly prevalent problem, with online platforms like Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube being the primary avenues for their dissemination. The consequence of this is that people may believe false information, leading to misguided actions and beliefs. Hence, a concerted effort to address this issue is essential.

    The youth is particularly vulnerable to the fake news environment as they often lack the skills to distinguish between verified and unverified information. They also tend to trust the sources of information they encounter online without considering the credibility of the sources. Consequently, non-profit organizations such as Media Literacy Now are lobbying policymakers to implement a news literacy curriculum in schools from middle school to university. The curriculum will equip students with the skills to analyze content, verify information, and scrutinize sites to determine their credibility.

    Incorporating a news literacy curriculum aims to make children better content consumers, particularly when using their smartphones to access information. The lessons will teach students to be more careful about what news to share online, and they will be encouraged to engage with their families and teachers to verify facts. This approach is crucial in ensuring that young people develop critical thinking skills, enabling them to make informed decisions in their daily lives. 

    Disruptive impact

    Media literacy is a vital tool that equips students with the skills to analyze news based on verified information. Since its establishment in 2013, Media Literacy Now has been crucial in introducing 30 bills on news literacy in education across 18 states. Although many of these bills have not passed, some schools have taken proactive steps to include media literacy in their curriculum. The goal is to empower students to become active and inquisitive news readers, able to distinguish between fact and fiction.

    Parents also have an important role to play in promoting news literacy. They are encouraged to ask their local schools what current news literacy programs are available and to request them if they are not. Online resources, such as the News Literacy Project, provide valuable teaching materials, including strategies to help students identify deep fake videos and learn about the role of journalism in democracy. Massachusetts' Andover High School is one example of a school that teaches students how to scrutinize war propaganda and conduct background checks on websites. While the specific methods used may differ, it is clear that states recognize the importance of news literacy in combating political polarization, mass propaganda, and online indoctrination (particularly in terrorist organizations).

    Implications of news literacy in education

    Wider implications of news literacy in education may include:

    • News literacy courses being introduced to even younger children to prepare them to become responsible online citizens.
    • More university degrees related to news literacy and analysis, including crossovers with other courses such as criminology and law.
    • Global schools introducing news literacy courses and exercises such as identifying fake social media accounts and scams.
    • The development of informed and engaged citizens who can participate in civil society and hold public officials accountable. 
    • A more informed and critical consumer base who are better equipped to make purchasing decisions based on accurate information.
    • Diverse and inclusive society, as individuals from different backgrounds are better able to understand and appreciate each other's perspectives while sticking to facts.
    • A more technologically literate population who can navigate the digital landscape and avoid online misinformation.
    • A skilled workforce that is better able to adapt to changing economic and technological conditions.
    • A more environmentally aware and engaged citizenry who can better evaluate environmental policies and advocate for sustainable practices.
    • A culturally aware and sensitive society that can recognize and understand the biases and assumptions that underlie media representations.
    • A legally literate population who can advocate for their rights and freedoms.
    • Ethically aware and responsible citizenry who can navigate complex ethical dilemmas and make informed decisions based on verified information.

    Questions to consider

    • Do you think news literacy should be required in school?
    • How else can schools implement a news literacy curriculum?

    Insight references

    The following popular and institutional links were referenced for this insight: